July 31, 2005

Abuse lawsuits seek liens on church property

Times Argus

July 31, 2005

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Staff Writer

The statewide Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington faces at least 10 priest misconduct lawsuits seeking liens on church property that could total up to $30 million.

Jerome O'Neill, chairman of the Burlington Police Commission and a former federal prosecutor, compelled the diocese to settle one case last year for a $150,000 cash payment – the largest such agreement in state history – and another for $120,000.

Now O'Neill has filed civil lawsuits in Burlington's Chittenden Superior Court on behalf of 10 more clients charging four former Vermont priests with child sexual abuse. The lawyer's past cases didn't request specific dollar amounts in damages. But this time, at least three lawsuits are seeking liens on church property – one for $4.5 million, two others for $2.5 million each.

"We expect to seek attachments in the $2.5 million range in all of the cases we have filed, for a total of around $30 million," O'Neill says.

Posted by kshaw at July 31, 2005 08:31 AM